family wellness | Uncategorized

Tick Kit: An Important Piece for Family Wellness

By on July 6, 2021

Well. It has been a long time since I’ve written in this space. We’ve gone “off the grid” a bit and are currently living in a small rural town in Maine. This is our temporary housing situation until we close on our “real” Maine home in August. It has been an adjustment living in a small cabin, not all bad– just an adjustment.

The biggest adjustment has been dealing with the bugs in Maine. I thought the mosquitoes in Florida were awful…. Maine, well… the ticks, the brown-tail caterpillars… Now, they are no joke. We’ve been here for about 3 weeks, and both of our younger kids have been diagnosed with tick-borne illnesses. We’ve done tick checks, we try to keep them out of the tall grass, we spray (with chemical-free) bug sprays.

So, the point of me writing this is to tell you. I want you to create a tick kit. I want you to take ticks seriously.

I don’t care if you are not outdoorsy, if you don’t live in an endemic area, or if you take ALL of the precautions. Deer ticks are miniscule. A freckle. Tinier than a freckle. And time is critical in identifying the tick and taking precautions.

It is an adaptation to have to be so friggin’ hyper aware. However, it is necessary! If you, or anyone you know has battled Lyme disease– the effects can last a lifetime.

Every second that a tick is feeding on you or your child, it is potentially passing on Lyme, Babesia, Bartonella or other co-infections. Ticks often carry more than one infection. Again, time is crucial in removing and identifying the tick. Each moment you spend searching for tweezers or a plastic baggie, the tick is spreading more of its ick. Seriously.

The Kit

A tick kit is simple. Having one on hand can help you beat the clock and remove and identify the tick ASAP. The contents are easy-peasy. It is just crucial to have them accessible and ready to go in a few moments. If you are like me, you will spend 30 minutes locating these items if they are not packed and ready to go.

  • A few index cards
  • A ziplock baggie
  • Tweezers with a sharp point
  • Sharpie
  • Clear tape
  • Alcohol wipes

Just throw the contents in the baggie and put it in your travel pack or car if you are out and about or in your medicine cabinet at home.

How to Remove a Tick

  1. Use pointed tip tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  2. Pull upward, without twisting or jerking so that you remove the tick completely. If your hand is not steady you may jerk the tick, leaving its mouthparts embedded in the skin. If this would happen, make sure to remove the mouthparts as well.
  3. After removing, tape the tick to the index card and write the details of time, date and location it was found. This is good information to have if symptoms appear. The doctors will have the full picture for treatment.
  4. Next, clean the bite with the alcohol wipe and watch and wait. Symptoms can occur 3-30 days post bite. Watch for fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, headaches or a bullseye rash.

Avoid using folk remedies to remove the tick. It has been found that applying nail polish, petroleum jelly, or any other number of remedies actually causes the tick to regurgitate its contents deeper into the skin.

Sending the Tick off for Testing

To get your tick tested, simply visit www.TickReport.com and follow instructions to receive your tick order number.  Then place your tick in a ziplock bag, label it with your order number, and mail the labeled tick to the Laboratory of Medical Zoology, 270 Stockbridge Rd., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003.  Results will be sent to you in 3-5 business days.  

This does not replace receiving medical advice/treatment, but it can give you an idea of what you are dealing with.

Take Tick Bites Seriously

An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure, I’ve been told. Ticks are definitely something that can easily be missed. Some ways to make the burden of ticks less cumbersome– having your tick kit on hand is a priority. Also, wearing light-colored clothing and bundling up. Long pants, tucked into socks, long sleeves and hats can help protect. Tick checks. Checking every crevice, multiple times per day if you are in an endemic area and making sure to remove, save and identify.

If you find a deer tick embedded in skin, I definitely recommend saving the tick and seeking medical attention BEFORE you experience symptoms. There are prophylactic treatments available. I am not one to rush for medicine and love to do things naturally, however this is one instance that I stand behind doxycycline and feel its risks are minimal comparatively.

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abuse

Abuse Patterns: The Awakening

By on March 25, 2021

After my last post, I have been pondering how to share the steps of breaking the cycles of abuse. The first step is to recognize the abuse cycle. This is the step to empower yourself so that you can start to recognize the patterning and gain strength to make a change. We can’t make a change if we don’t know it is there.

Abuse is tricky, it is hard to define and is often difficult to even recognize when you are living in it, much less address and break-free. Most often, folks from the outside looking in can see it. In my situation, I was very headstrong, independent and sure I would never fall into the abuse cycle. However, my childhood clouded my adult mind and kept me from recognizing I was still choosing abusive relationships. This is pretty common and how the cycle perpetuates through generations.

There are generally 4 phases of an abuse cycle. There can be cycles within the cycles– and the length of time of the cycles can vary. Just reading that sentence is a little confusing.

4 Cycles

  1. Tension Building– This is the phase after the “honeymoon phase” of the relationship. This is where tension and stress begin to build. This is the phase when the victim is walking on eggshells as not to “trigger” the abuser, and there is a lot of passive-aggressive tendencies from the abuser.
  2. The Explosion– This is when the violence occurs. There are many shapes and forms of abuse. Violent behavior does not always mean physical assault. The abuse can be psychological– a violent outburst, sexual (make-up sex), or any kind of extreme-controlling behavior. Emotional abuse can be even harder to recognize. Emotional abuse can look like extreme possessiveness, jealousy, isolation, guilt-trips, put-downs, or blame-shifting.
  3. Honeymoon Phase- This is the phase of reconciliation. The abuser apologizes for their behavior, swear they don’t know what came over them, and they never meant to hurt you or cause any pain. They shower the victim with love, maybe even gifts, and they appear remorseful, sad, and sometimes even threaten to hurt themselves if the victim wants to leave.
  4. Peaceful/Calm Stage- This is when all is well, and it seems the abuser is “doing their work” to never let the behavior happen again. This is when the victim is holding on to faith that the abuser has really changed and life is looking up. Unfortunately, without extensive help and true sincerity, this is rarely the case. Something will occur to flare up the tension building stage, perpetuating the abuse cycle.

This Cycle of Violence theory was developed by Dr. Lenore Walker, and is used in many therapeutic approaches to teach the relationship dynamics of abuse.

Generational Abuse

The sad fact is, that children growing up in abusive homes have trouble recognizing that their upbringing was abnormal. This is what perpetuates the cycle and unfortunately a high number of these children grow up to be victims or abusers in their future relationships.

Awakening to Make Change

I am going to get personal here. Making a change is hard– sometimes familiarity is a comfort, and sometimes admitting that a relationship has “failed” is hard on the ego.

I am not a professional, and do not claim to be. I am just a survivor and have first hand experience. To make a change, the thing that is most important is that you love yourself enough to remove yourself from abuse. This is the part that has to be nurtured from within, and the next piece of the puzzle is to find support. Loving family, loving friends, and a strong support network can help you find the strength and light at the end of the tunnel.

Know that you deserve love, and abuse of any form is NOT love.

Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1800-799-SAFE

National Dating Abuse Hotline

1-866-331-9474

National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health
1-312-726-7020 ext. 2011

Break the Cycle 
202-824-0707


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abuse | emotional wellness

Finding the Strength to Heal from Abuse

By on February 24, 2021

I have been thinking about vulnerability. I’m coming up on the 3 year anniversary of this blog. My intent has been to share a slice of life and finding joy in the motherhood journey.

Lately, I have been lacking inspiration and direction. Today I realized the reason. I’ve touched on my story a few times here and there, but I haven’t really shared the nitty-gritty. The nitty-gritty of how to leave a lifetime of abuse behind and create a positive life of love and healing. This growth is what has created the space to be able to fully experience “joyful motherhood”.

In the past, I have shared the “end result” rather than the baby-steps it took to get to this place of healing. My work now is to share the how-to. This is the vulnerable piece for me. The information came to me in several forms all at once. It was like I hit a place in life and the universe said here, it’s your time. Go do it. Go break the cycle.

I started taking steps– I found the personal development avenues I required to start changing my thoughts, I found someone who was willing to support me and empower me through the change. It was not (and is not) always easy. Luckily, I’m strong willed or determined and my support system knows how get me to activate the right muscles to get it done, lol. I am also dedicated to use my story and my success to help others who need and want it.

Trauma Cycles

The truth is, I have only been free of abuse for 6 years. Abuse is so clouding, I didn’t even recognize I was *still* living in an abusive situation in adulthood because it felt better than my childhood. Denial at its best. I was the master of thinking “if I do this, then our situation will change”. I failed to recognize I needed to love myself enough to completely remove myself from abuse and never turn back. The saying is true, “we repeat what we don’t repair”. This is unfortunate as a mother, because we have the luxury of passing it on to our children.

Abuse leaves nasty scars. It took about 3 years after removing myself from abuse to feel calm and grounded in my new reality. Abuse affects us physically, mentally and spiritually. It damages our self-image, our self-worth, our ability to have healthy relationships, our ability to trust life, trust people, to be fully present and on and on. It causes us to suffer from anxiety, depression, trauma responses, etc. etc.

This is the piece I feel is so truly unfair, and the piece I am passionate about. The scars DO NOT have to dictate our outcome or our level of success (meaning happiness). Life does not have to be a struggle. Yes, we will be faced with struggles. However, overall healing is possible and we can stop the cycles of abuse if we truly want it.

The Mind is a Tool

I had two thoughts I held on to throughout my childhood. #1 was that I was going through this to help others and #2 I deserved more and would have a healthy family as an adult. I had a very clear image of what my “normal” family would look like. Little did I know, that the power of focus on these two thoughts would be my saving grace.

I survived sexual abuse, domestic violence, poverty, living in extreme drug addiction, and many other labels. I have survived PTSD, disassociation, and have learned to live fully in my body so that I can truly enjoy life.

The details of how to leave, how to pay for it, and how to live beyond survival unfolded. I have been able to keep my son relatively sane and I feel there has been massive healing for him too, so that hopefully he doesn’t have to carry the scars into adulthood.

I’m saddened every day when I think about abuse statistics and the reality of the drug situation in our country. I felt alone when I was young, and now recognize that a huge percentage of the world falls into these statistics. All forms of abuse damages our psyche and creates the baggage that we carry.

Over the next phase of this blog, I will start sharing the ways I learned to manage my mind, pull from my inner strength, love myself, and change my story. If you or someone you know has suffered abuse in any form, please invite them to this page so they can receive this information.

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breastfeeding

Hey, Momma! Don’t Forget To Care For Yourself!

By on February 16, 2021
Guest Article By Leslie Campos, wellparents.com

If you are a first-time, breastfeeding mom, congratulations! Nursing your baby is an intimate experience that you will never forget. But one thing you may forget is that you have to take care of yourself, too, if you want to be the very best mom and caregiver for your little one. Without further ado, here are some tips on how to do that during the first precious months (or years) of your breastfeeding journey.

Read — a lot.

If your bundle has yet to make their debut, get to work by reading. Your study sessions should include online blogs, like Integrated Mama, as well as books on pregnancy and motherhood. Look for information and helpful tips on things pertinent to your life. This might be bringing a new baby home when you have dogs in the house or caring for a child when you have a disability. There is no such thing as too much knowledge, as long as it comes from a reputable source.

Pack well before your due date. 

There are few things more stressful to a pre-parent than getting close to your due date without a hospital bag packed. Trust that the sooner you are ready to head out the door, the better. You want to make sure you have everything from a delivery gown to your baby’s car seat. For your hospital clothing, make sure you have garments that are cozy, comfortable, and familiar and can be easily used to breastfeed. You’ll also want to pack snacks for you and your partner, lip balm to address dry and cracked lips, and all the paperwork needed by the hospital or birthing center.

Address breastfeeding issues early on.

Once the baby arrives, you should have access to a lactation nurse that can show you the ropes. Do not be afraid to ask for help, and find a lactation consultant to address issues early. Breastfeeding problems can range from low supply to your infant being tongue-tied, so having an expert on call from the beginning will save you from an immeasurable amount of worry and heartache.

Sleep when you can.

Newborn babies sleep a lot — but they wake up a lot, too. If possible, sleep when your baby sleeps, but also ask for help from your partner, close friends, or family so that you get at least a few long stretches of shuteye. Do yourself a favor and learn how to swaddle before you leave the hospital. Swaddling will help suppress the jerking movements from your baby’s startle reflex, which can wake them prematurely from a sound sleep.

Enjoy a warm bath every night. 

A warm bath does wonders for the soul, but the moist heat also increases your milk supply. Further, a 30-minute dip in the tub can soothe tired muscles and, as the Inner Splendor blog explains, even lower your blood pressure. A special note here: If you do have high blood pressure, consult with your child’s pediatrician about whether or not your current medications may pass onto your breast milk.

There are many self-care acts that you can do for yourself when you’re breastfeeding. Obviously, you need to eat well and exercise, but being your best is more than that. These are just a few tips that can help you be good to yourself and your baby. This is an exciting time and one that you will never forget, so treat yourself well and enjoy every moment.

Integrated Mama is a treasure trove of inspiration and wellness tips for first-time and experienced moms alike. Like the Facebook page to stay abreast of information on pregnancy, nursing, and motherhood. 

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recipes

Probiotic-Rich Instant Pot Yogurt

By on January 8, 2021

Recently, my friend shared with me that she made yogurt from our favorite probiotic capsules. I have tried Instant-Pot yogurt a few times with yogurt cultures/starters and various milks. I haven’t had a successful batch until this recipe.

My friend shared her Instant Pot yogurt method with me, and I made a few adaptations just to make sure the probiotics would survive/thrive. I am blogging it now to share with you (and to have it for my future use). It is a 2 ingredient, very little hands-on effort recipe.

My kids eat yogurt every morning and we purchase 2 tubs per week. That adds up quite quickly. I love knowing the exact ingredients, that I’m reducing plastic consumption, and saving some money. The other thing that is a super bonus for me is knowing the probiotic strains I’m eating. I love Young Living’s Life 9 probiotic, and knowing it has multiplied and thrived in the yogurt means this is a super probiotic-rich gut boost!

One of my pet-peeves is a long blog prior to a recipe, lol. So, without further ado—

Instant Pot Yogurt Recipe

Ingredients/Equipment

Instant Pot (I used 6 quart)

Large jar for storage

6 Life 9 Probiotic capsules (or yogurt cultures, although I haven’t had the same success with other methods of culturing)

Tea towel

1/2 Gallon Organic Valley Whole Milk (2% works well too)

  1. Start with a clean Instant Pot, free of residue.
  2. Pour milk into the Instant Pot, close and lock the lid. Select Yogurt setting, then adjust pressure setting to boil. When the boil setting is complete, it will click back to yogurt.
  3. Carefully remove Instant Pot lid, being careful not to drop any condensation that has accumulated on the lid into the milk. I remove it carefully with the tea towel, catching any condensation.
  4. Check temperature of milk, making sure it has reached 180 degrees. Carefully, remove inner pot and sit in an ice water bath to chill the milk to 80-110 degrees. I did this in my sink.
  5. Set aside 1 cup of cooled milk. In a medium bowl, empty probiotic capsules, add cool milk and whisk until combined.
  6. Gently pour probiotic mixture back into milk pot and stir to combine. 
  7. Return insert into the Instant Pot. Select yogurt setting and set time to 24 hours.
  8. The next day, open the lid, stir and transfer to storage container.
  9. Will keep 2 weeks in the fridge.

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